Things PC users should know before switching to the Mac

Oddly, Windows Mobile does this - although multiple windows for the same application are typically a bit tricky on the small screens Windows Mobile devices tend to have, clicking the ‘X’ in Windows mobile closes the window, but leaves the app running.

Most users that know this, hate it and install one of the utility that makes the X close the app (some phone/PDA manufacturers bundle such a utility in as standard now)

This is the model I have. You can see in the photo that all the connectors are on those blocks on the side. The reason it’s called “Bookendz” is that you put your MacBook on the base and slide the two blocks into place with your hands. You pull the lever at the back to release the Macbook from the dock.

I got the dock so I don’t have to connect/disconnect my external monitor every day. It works like a charm, as far as I’m concerned.

That Macs aren’t perfect. They aren’t even as wonderful as they claim in the ads. I went Mac just over two years ago, and I’ve had to replace the battery (under warranty, no problem) and the hard drive (under warranty, but nothing recoverable from the old drive. Not fun, and I never went through that on a PC.)

There’s also a funny thing with Macs - there’s a certain attitude of ‘we know what you want a computer to do better than you do’.

Some examples - when you start the laptop, there’s a ‘chime’ that sounds if the volume is on. My first session with an ‘Apple Genius’ in one of those ‘One to One’ [del]indoctrination[/del] learning sessions, I asked how I could eliminate the chime. “You can’t - it’s a default.” was the answer. My kluge has been to mute the volume before I shut the computer down, but I don’t understand why there can’t be a ‘Play sound on startup’ switch somewhere in the Preferences. I’ve run into it on iTunes a lot - “I don’t want it to download Album Artwork to my iPod - where’s the switch that used to be there to tell it not to?” “Oh, it’s now the default.” “How can I get it to use ‘Now Playing’ as the screen saver instead of the clock? I don’t need a clock, and I don’t like having to mess with the controls to find out what the iPod is playing.” “Oh, that’s the default.” Okay, but how do I change the default? Blank stare…

Then there are the nanny messages - “Device Removal - The device * was not properly ejected before it was removed. Be sure to always eject your device before removing it.” “iTunes has stopped downloading this podcast because you haven’t listened to any episodes lately. Would you like to continue downloading?” PC users who are used to keeping track themselves of whether the flash drive is doing something or not will really hate that…

Most interesting to me is when the Mac hangs - it’s as if they were so confident that it couldn’t happen that they never built in a way to deal with it. In my case, something about the combination of the external Q-Drive (where the music is stored), MacBook Pro and iPod causes the system to hang. When it hangs, Force Quit will not do anything, nor will Restart, nor will Shut Down. I’ve found starting out by disconnecting the Q-Drive often fixes the problem so that you can shut down and start again, but when it doesn’t, you have to hold down the On switch until the whole machine shuts down. So far, we haven’t been able to trace what is causing the problem other than ‘some sort of conflict between the devices.’

The ‘service only on appointment’ thing is rather irritating as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re standing right there in the store, you have to make an appointment to see someone about service. Even if the service people are standing bored behind the counter at that very moment - no appointment, no service.

On preview, it looks like I really hate Macs, and I would feel bad if I left anyone with that impression. The day that I had to edit the Register Key to completely uninstall Norton Anti-Virus from my PC is etched in my mind, as are the days when my poor old Toshiba laptop, 4 years old and 2 years past the RAM and processing speed required for Anti-Virus software, would take about 20 minutes to boot up. (I don’t really like computers, but that’s a whole other discussion.)

It isn’t that I don’t like Macs, I just dislike the whole ‘cult of perfection’ nonsense that seems to have evolved around them. They work out pretty well when they’re working, it’s nice to have little toy programs like Garage Band and iDVD in the operating system, and they work best for people who like to do what the computer tells them to do.

If you’re at all a perfectionist, if you like to customize things and have them come out exactly the way you envisioned them, if the Ken Burns effect gives you a rash, you may not enjoy a Mac as much as they would have you believe.

You’re coming at Macs from a certain bias which colors your comments and conclusions.

A Mac running OSX isn’t a Windows machine and there’s no reason to expect that it will operate like one. Keep in mind too, that if you’re not happy with OSX and don’t need specific applications that run on OSX, you can install XP, Vista or Windows 7 onto a second partition and run that.

No computer is perfect and Macs like any other system have their share of problems. Ads on TV for windows based systems

That kind of thing appeals to some people. They don’t want to have to deal with the kinds of stuff you may have to deal with when it comes to PCs. There’s truth to the idea that Macs “just work” because Apple has tightly controlled the hardware and software. It doesn’t mean they’re without fault, of course.

I don’t understand why Windows 7 won’t put an icon on my desktop when I insert new media.

ALL computers can hang and both Macs and PCs have ways of dealing with it.

Ok, but the positive side of it is that Apple stores provide a service that no other big vendor provides. I can’t take my Dell laptop to the Dell store and see someone.

All computers work out pretty well when they’re working and Macs are no more difficult to deal with than windows PCs when they break. I know this because I have several windows PCs and a Macbook pro at home and I have PCs and Macs in the testing lab I run.

BTW, Garage Band isn’t a toy. It’s a pretty full featured recording application. No, it’s not pro tools or logic, but it’s really good.

I’d hope that people buy a Mac because they want what it can do and for the specific user experience OSX provides.

How to mute the startup chime:

I don`t want to get into an argument with you but just point out that, as other people already said, it’s largely about personal preference and getting used to things. I can’t stand nanny messages but I can’t think of any I get on my mac except the device removal one. When I use windows I get the exact same message you used as an example - improper device removal - and about 5 other stupid balloons telling me I have unused desktop icons and firewall turned off and a bunch of other irrelevant messages. From my point of view, if you hate your OS telling you a bunch of shit you don’t want to know and forcing you to do things the way they think is best, OS X is for you.

I’m not saying I’m right and you’re wrong, I can respect that some people find OS X more imposing than Windows. Although frankly, I do think I’m right and you’re wrong about it. The real point is just that there’s a lot of personal preference involved. Like this idea of being annoyed that windows don’t go to take up the entire screen. I can’t imagine why anybody would even want their window to be larger than the application requires, but apparently people like it.

I can’t stand the fact that windows shuts down a program when I close all of the windows. I don’t want to have to sit through the program loading up next time I open something in it. I find this is one of the major differences between Mac users and PC users. The Mac users that I know, essentially never shut a program down. I basically only close a program when I turn my computer off. The Mac is really designed for this. I can swipe my hand and switch applications very quickly, and there are even four different desktops for different programs. I haven’t quite figured out how to use the multiple desktops the best way, but it does clear the clutter.

  1. It minimizes the need to scroll through documents that exceed the window height.
  2. Desktop clutter is less distracting.

I mean, is it really that inscrutable?

I’m not sure what you mean here. If I close a document in photoshop, the app stays running, but the document is flushed out of the memory. I’d have to open the document again, and for larger files, this can take a few seconds or more to reload all the layers into memory again.

I’ve never used Emacs, but if you close the document, isn’t that the same as closing its window?

Correct. Basically, my previous post was in response to your idea that when you close the last document, the app just quits. I rarely want that. I like keeping most of my apps open that I work in throughout the day, but close any documents that may hamper my memory requirements at any given moment.

It’s not a huge hog, no, but it does take about 30 seconds-ish to launch. It’s a workflow thing. Why wait to relaunch something you know you’re going to be jumping to back and forth and in and out from all the time?

At this very minute, I have PhotoShop, Illustrator, Cinema4D, AfterEffects, Mail, Safari, iChat, Preview, Quicktime, Suitcase, and a few smaller things, all launched and ready to go (and only Cinema4D and Safari have a document window open, ATM). I’m in and out of these apps constantly (and sometimes more). Who want’s to keep quitting and relaunching all that stuff on the fly, dozens of times a day, everytime they need it?

I bought a MacBook for personal use, then a year later started a job in which the entire office used Macs. I’m now back in a Windows office.


I hate that Macs do not have a Delete key, shoot, or is it Backspace?! Anyway, one is missing and requires use of the FN key to accomplish the task.

I like that with Windows I can see all the open windows on the task pain, making moving between open windows easy. It took me a while to get used to the Hot Corners on a Mac (those not aware, you can set each corner of the screen to accomplish tasks, such as show desktop, show all open windows, etc by extending the pointer past the corner). I got used to it, but hate accidently hitting a screen corner and having the task occur.

Other than that, it was all the little things previously mentioned that took a little bit of getting used to, but are now second nature.

Do you mean “Forward Delete?” Apple extended keyboards have them. I never use it.
Cmd-Tab shows all currently running Applications and allows you to switch between them easily. As does F9.

I will readily admit that it would be a bad thing for the personal computer industry to put Apple in charge of everything. There is something very…Disneyesque about Apple. Apple does a lot towards empowering you, the individual using the computer… as long as you approach your tasks THEIR way. They can be damned inflexible about anyone who has a different approach.

Yeah, that, exactly.

Be that as it may, Microsoft has a different but also lethally poisonous attitude towards personal computing (not so much that Microsoft Knows Best but that Your IT Department Knows Best and no one but the IT Dept has any business treating the PC as if it is theirs), and the chemical outcome of Apple and Microsoft as competitors has made for a more open environment than either company would have given us by itself.

BOTH companies have a nasty habit of doing integration via the “our way or the highway” approach, whether it be Apple and their integration of iChat, iCal, Mail, and iPhoto or Microsoft and the integration of the Office suite.

You can’t seriously be suggesting that the Mac has more, or more annoying, nanny messages than Windows. Even under XP, “The document that you tried to print successfully printed, just thought you oughta know” / “Use the Start Menu to launch things” / “A bunch of unused icons has been spotted on your desktop, do you want them sent to Siberia?” / “DID YOU KNOW that popup windows that are not error messages that just pop up trying to be helpfully informative are as annoying as all get-out?” … and Vista is apparently even worse with the incessant dialogs due to the new security stuff, yes?

I can see where that could be annoying. On the other hand, I used to haul my Mac to TekServe. Bring it in, take a ticket, then wait wait wait wait wait until your number is called, bring sick computer to the intake tech, they write up a ticket and then you go home or back to work and wait FOREVER while your computer gathers dust on the shelf waiting for the hardware bench techs to get to it. At the Apple Store, it’s more like making an appointment with your doctor. When they call your name they are prepared to work on your computer. Sure, it occasionally still requires referral to a specialist (sending it to Cupertino for an R & R that they aren’t set up to do there in the store) but lots of times they fix it while you wait. To me that outweighs the disadvantages of “service by appt only”.

Those docking stations are sweet. WAY out of my budget, though.

OS X makes the window as wide and tall as possible given the window’s contents. It doesn’t make it as wide as your entire screen when there’s not enough content to fill the entire screen. So no, this isn’t inscrutable at all. Windows just doesn’t achieve the objective you stated better than OS X.

I guess so. I don’t have any desktop clutter. I can’t usually see any desktop though because I’ll have 3-5 windows up at once. I guess what’s inscrutable to me is how people not only manage but actually desire to only be able to focus on one window at a time.

When the window fills the screen, it has the effect of graying out your desktop image. That can make a difference for some–e.g., for me–as far as distraction and concentration. More importantly, it makes the entire screen your work area. Even if you don’t need it, it’s a less constrained, more comfortable way to work.

My first 5 or 6 years in computers was with Macs. For a while I had both; Mac at home and PC at work. I’m fully ambidextrous. (At one point I was office manager split between two offices sharing building rent. One was Mac one was PC. I had to have both machines on my desk because neither one was willing to compromise.)

There are pros and cons, obviously, for each system. But as far as having the window fill the screen, I prefer the Windows way.

It’s just what you’re used to. I’m a windows user, and it just feels wrong to me to have more than one window in view at the same time. If I was used to having multiple windows in view at the same time, I’m sure it would feel wrong to only see one.

I think a lot of arguments between Windows and Mac users are like that. One person is used to one thing, another person is used to another thing, and neither can understand why the other doesn’t see just how wrong they are.

But that’s just not true. When I first open up Safari it looks like this:

That’s hardly “wide and tall as possible given the window’s contents.” Then, from here, if you want to maximize the window to show more of the web page, you have to first drag the entire window to the top left corner and then resize it with the bottom right corner, something Windows does with one click.

So yeah, Windows DOES achieve my stated objective much better. I’m not trolling for Windows here, after all, I did buy the Mac and I like it. And if there’s some way to adjust the interface that I’ve overlooked, then I welcome any correction. But while I will be the first to admit that Windows sucks in many ways, let’s not turn this into an “OS X thought of EVERYTHING, it does EVERYTHING better than Windows” pissing contest, because I don’t believe that’s true.

Preferences aside, the “Windows way” falls apart when one has a giant monitor, like the new 27" iMac. With a monitor that size, it’s easy to keep a web browser, email client, calendar and address book open at the same time. If one was only going to be able to see one program at a time, one might as well use a 17" monitor.

Exactly. And I wouldn’t need to ride the bus if you bought me a Bentley.


If I had been making a personal purchase instead of working it into an equipment buy at work, it never would have happened.